Friday, December 25, 2009

Teresa Heinz fighting breast cancer


Teresa Heinz, a part-time Wood River Valley resident for more than 30 years, has announced that she is being treated for breast cancer, but has a 95 percent chance of recovery.

Heinz, 71, and her husband, Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee, own a house just north of Ketchum along the Big Wood River.

On Wednesday, Heinz—the widow of Sen. John Heinz, heir to the Heinz ketchup fortune—told the Associated Press that she found out in late September that she had cancer in her left breast after having her annual mammogram.

In early October, she underwent lumpectomies on both breasts at a Washington hospital after doctors also discovered what they thought was a benign growth on her right breast.

That diagnosis was initially confirmed in post-operative pathology, but two other doctors later found it to be malignant. In November, Heinz had another pair of lumpectomies performed at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Doctors also inserted titanium clips in the tissue of both breasts during the operations, and next month she will receive five days of targeted radiation.

Heinz contended that younger women should continue undergoing mammograms despite a federal panel's recent recommendation to reduce their frequency.

"Chemotherapy is serious," she said. "It also costs a lot of money. It's very painful. And it's very destructive of people's—most people's—lives, for a while anyway. So why put people through that instead of just having a test that's done, and it's done? So that's why I was so upset about that decision of this panel."

Heinz has been a significant contributor to nonprofit organizations within the valley, including a $325,000 donation in 1992 from the Heinz Family Foundation to purchase and preserve Galena Lodge, a popular Nordic skiing destination north of Ketchum.

Heinz was also the keynote speaker at the 2006 Sun Valley Sustainability Conference.

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